Thursday, April 28, 2016

Diva Half Marathon 2016

Calling all Divas!!! Pink everything, tutus, boas, tiaras, champagne, epic medals handed out by shirtless firemen with more ripples to their abs than a cheese grater (oh yes, thank you for my medal!)…..you could say this run was right up my ally, and getting to do it with three of the coolest ladies made the weekend so memorable.

This run marks the end of a goal I set for myself in January. As of now I finished 3 BMX nationals and 4 half marathons. There was also a 5k and a cross country road trip with my bestie in there as well. I’m so excited that I got to accomplish this, and it’s safe to say that I will be gladly taking a little time to rest, but back to the Diva run!

F, J, G & I picked up our packets at the Expo on Saturday. It faces the beach, and it was such a pretty view. We got to take pictures, shop, and basically freak out internally with happiness at the all  pink errything theme. After, we got to check out the Strand, do some shopping, see some live music, and rescue some much needed chocolate from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Co.! 🙂

Race morning arrived bright and (too) early. We became divas in our head to toe pink, and headed out to the starting line at Saengerfest Park. 3….2…..1….go!

The first few miles were the toughest. Being used to running in 45 degrees, 70 was a hard pill to swallow. Nevertheless, we ran on until our muscles warmed up and we each found our pace. 


We ran down to the beach, and from there we followed the sea wall on a long out and back route. Carrying water this time helped a lot since it was hot out, and it started at 6:30 ish, half an hour earlier than last year. Without that water I would have been suffering between hydration stations. The course was flat and fast; there was very little elevation. The trick to this course was to watch your time. Avoiding gravel and too big cracks in the sidewalks helped lots. A biker rode by, hit a crack and he went flying, poor guy! A bunch of us made sure he was okay and could get up. J and I ran into each other (no pun intended, ha!) on the course and finished it together.



After the sea wall, we ran back up through town to the strand and, after stopping to pick up our tiaras and bias, crossed the finish line WOOHOO!!!! We got champagne, then water, then hot firemen put our medals on us. The dance contest was next, and J hopped in while we cheered her on. Next on the list was to congratulate the overall winner and get our hands on some grub. 

Despite a few bumps, and the lack of cold, this is one of my all time favorite fun runs. We all had a blast, and it will definitely be on the “to do again list” in the future. Big thumbs up! Way to go all you pinked out Divas! 




Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Running Adventure: Houston Post Flood

Houston, Texas. A humid, burning concrete jungle where people pay to go to hot yoga. A “cruel, crazy town on a filthy river in East Texas with no zoning laws and a culture of sex, money, and violence. It’s a shabby, sprawling metropolis ruled by brazen women, crooked cops and pansexual cowboys who live by the code of the west – which can mean just about anything you need it to mean, in a pinch.” ~Hunter S. Thompson

Despite the daily dose of sticky humidity slowly tip-toeing back in, signaling an end to the blessed 40-50 degree weather that is our winter, no gently cooling springtime showers were meant to be. In Houston, the proverbial “when it rains, it storms”, is the typical rule. Not so typically, we received a shocking 20 inches in under 24 hours no more than 2 days ago! Floodplains filled, man-made lakes overflowed, and streets and houses became unwilling submergeable hosts to myriad waterlogged wildlife – most likely just as confused at the loss of their homes.

I have been 2 days now rained out of work; there is indeed a downside to neighboring with a flood reservoir and pretty parks and trails – that downside I’m guessing you’ve already put together by the heading of this blog. Don’t misunderstand though, there are plenty of things to do when one is not at work. If I happened to win the lottery tomorrow I promise you I would have plenty of things to do without that annoying 7am alarm calling me to it!

A major (seemingly earth-shattering if my closet has anything to say about it) item I checked off my to-do list was spring cleaning. Gone are the days when I can’t see my closet floor, or decide what to wear based on its’ relative proximity to the door. Gone are five extra bags of items for charity. I have flood induced house arrest to thank for that. I do realize that some lost major items, lives, or everything they own, and I am not making light of that. My heart goes out to everyone who has suffered in this. However, I write about what I know, and this is my experience.

Today being the second day inside, a serious case of stir-crazy began to set in. You know the feeling – nothing satisfies, no idea works, napping has lost its’ appeal (which isn’t often). With almost every major road surrounding me shut down, I decided to grab the running shoes and take off to the east.

I swiftly made it out of my subdivision, the only peculiarities being some downed branches and a stalled car in the middle of a street closer to the highway. I crossed the highway and headed further east through a neighboring subdivision. Everything seemed normal; an exhausted looking woman covered in a huge wrap hat was mowing her yard, and I nodded back to an old man out for a walk.

Coming out to the intersection of a major road, I will call it Sandy Road, cars began turning back. Both directions of this road were blocked off. I ran around the barrier and looked out before me. It was the strangest sight, you see this particular road is never without cars. Gazing as far down Sandy Road as I could, sun glancing off bare cement was all that existed. I took off running down the middle of Sandy at 2:30 PM, something that definitely made me feel like a brazen woman! It was the strangest and most peaceful thing, to be surrounded by nothing but wide empty road and waterfowl and bullfrogs. It felt like I was running by myself in a race. Perhaps this is what Callum Neff feels like when he’s winning races. Hmm.

To my left was nothing but woods, and to my right a half-submerged golf course, with wild ducks and cranes dotting the landscape. I slowed to a walk as I tip-toed accross a long thin 2 inch deep stream of clear water traversing the two halves of the road, being very careful to avoid three or four small snakes sliding along with the water. I briefly stopped to speak with a group of hikers walking in the opposite direction, and ran on. The hikers continued on their way and I was alone, with the exception of a huge county work truck loudly and easily making its’ way through the knee high water. The area had an almost post-apocalyptic feel. It got me thinking about 1984, and other such books with a similar theme. The code of the West would most likely change as well. Imagining is key, but I don’t think I’d like to find out.

I simply kept running in the sticky oppressive heat. I ran until the sidewalk ended. Literally. And the road, and the grass. I ran until sweat stung my eyes and it was hard to see without wiping my hand below the brim of my hat. Eventually, deep water appeared everywhere, gently lapping against the unburied road, owning my field of vision. It remained obstinately in the way, as if to say, “I’ll go when I please, and don’t you forget it.”. It was dangerous, and natural, and solitary, and beautiful. Too much of a good thing. I had to turn around, but by then it felt like a good time to head home anyway, to grab a bottle of ice cold water and chug it down. To cook dinner and move on. An entire world away for me, but in reality 5 miles complete.

I like to ride and run, and to work on speed, and hills, and endurance. But sometimes it’s fun to just get out there, explore something new, and go where you feel like going. Whatever your hobbies are, change them up so they remain new and interesting. A big change isn’t necessary, it can be something as small as how you choose to see it. Always try to remember why you began something. As we grow we change, and sometimes the reasons why you continue doing things aren’t the reasons why you are still doing them. It’s important to remember your roots. Sometimes it’s just as important to remember your original reason for beginning, and your reasons now, take what matters and merge the two. I think that’s a pretty good code of the west.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

USA BMX Lone Star Nationals






The BMX Lone Star nationals were last weekend in Pflugerville, TX, just north of Austin. This was a 3 day national, so Friday was also a national race instead of the usual double point (I believe) race. I was dead tired from the trip earlier that week, so I decided to figuratively pull myself up by those bootstraps (well, I own booties so hopefully that counts!), and hold my crap together for the weekend. This was easier said than done, btw. 
I woke up Friday morning, displaying the usual level of 4am cranky, loaded the car and bikes up amid lightening closer than I’d like, sheets of rain and thunder. The weather followed me all the way to the Austin area, into the overpriced parking of a mud hole field. I was greeted by rude parking attendants who seemed to have the bright idea each day that those who arrived early needed to park as far away as possible from the track, and slog through thick, sticky mud in mtb shoes to get anywhere. Let’s just say that I got tired of this lunacy very quickly, and decided to park away from the mud, closer to Central Texas BMX
I have never been to this track before, and I really liked it. The starting hill was the most fun! It was tall and you can get going super fast down it before you hit the first jump. I squeezed in a cruiser practice before the rain and alarms began and we had to run for cover to our cars. Despite the rain and the delayed start, the track workers worked really hard and our race was on! I ended up getting 1st on cruiser and 2nd in class. Got to the hotel at around 9, got a much needed shower and food, and was out like a light. 
Day two: The weather was the complete antithesis of day one; it was sunny and beautiful. Parking was still a mud hole, but by now I just ignored the rude attendants and parked somewhere that my car could actually escape. Practice was so much fun, and I got to visit the USA BMX trailer and harass my favorite people lol!! Between practice and motos, I took a lot of time to take naps in the car. I really needed it, and just tried my hardest on the track despite not feeling prepared for this one. I ended up qualifying out and getting 1st in cruiser and 2nd in class. The track is a definite power track, with lots of pedaling needed. When I got off after a lap, all I can say is, whew! It gave me a few ideas on what I can do to get better, and in the end that’s really what I love, the proscess more than the end result.
Day three: Sunday was a tad warmer; the sun beating down can take its’ own toll, so I made sure to drink lots of water and snack on (mostly) healthy items with natural sugars. The track dried up even more, and there was almost no wind. Racing went off without a hitch. I qualified out again, and was able to repeat a 1st in cruiser, and 2nd in class. By this day I was dead tired, so there can be no other social commentary. There were, however, naps aplenty, lol! 
All in all, it turned out to be such a fun weekend of racing. The track operators and USA BMX staff were wonderful, and went above and beyond to put on such a fun weekend! I have never been happier that the drive home was only 3 hours. I took off this past week and weekend from doing anything athletic. Sometimes you just need a break. 🙂 Until next time!
Photo above courtesy of BMXNews.com. And yes, I make weird faces when I race. 😜

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Houston to San Fran...part II

By now third day road trip brain had set in; this means crazy hair don't care and second day floral sweatpants fashion, topped off with large sunglasses. We got up around 5 am, which sets the Guiness Book of records for highest consecutive amount of days Erin has ever got up early. We packed the car and were off, adios Grand Canyon!
We rolled into California through Hinkley and Barstow, with Flume floating from the speakers, courtesy of J. This area was desert; while J was power napping we crossed an area of road where sand surged across like waves on the bay. A tumbleweed rolled by in front of the car, and a few minutes after that a white wooden sign with peeling paint came into view. It read, "PG&E did it, and we knew about it since 1952. Supporting the people of Hinkley." After watching Erin Brockovich about a million times, it felt so surreal to actually see this town, as well as the factory I can only guess was or is PG&E. If you haven't seen this movie, I highly reccomend it! 
We went through beautiful Bakersfield, full of green rolling hills, through a literal wind farm close to Palm Springs. California is so varied, sort of like Texas; you never get bored, especially after having to stop at the state border for a citrus fruit check!
We made it into San Fran around 8pm, and carried everything in J's life into the second floor bedroom of the bubble house air b&b, spoke with the owner perhaps too long, and collapsed into bed with absolutely NO alarm set for the next morning - definitely deserved. 
I must state the obvious, San Francisco is AMAZING. No small paragraph can do this 14 square foot city justice. We ran all around the city, beginning with a late brunch at the Cliff House. They have these popovers that are hollow inside and doughy and steamy when you break them open; add in a pat of butter and strawberry preserves and we were in heaven! We saw the Sutro Baths, Twin Peaks' windy beauty, the Japanese Tea Garden, Fisherman's wharf, and had bubble tea in Chinatown.
For dinner on the first day, we met up with C for Peruvian food. The lowdown on C; C and I were best friends since we were 4. She moved to California right before I turned 6, and we wrote letters to each other ever since. That is very rare, and I value it so highly. We had such a blast at dinner, oh that paella and civeche and bubbly was perfect - a perfect ending with wonderful friends!
Flying home was very sad. Saying goodbye to my best friend I know isn't final, but my heart was so heavy none the less. I think in a day and a half I had already felt so at home. I don't feel like that often; I have lived in Texas almost my whole life and have always felt so out of place.  Who knows, maybe one day the stars will align.
Returning early to race the Lone Star nationals in Austin a day later. Talk to you soon J & C!! Miss you guys already!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Houston to San Fran…just a hop, skip, and a hike! Part I


Whew! This last week has been a whirlwind. One of my best friends in the world, J, decided to move to San Francisco, so I took off a week of work to pack her car full of her whole life, and drive there with her. Houston to San Fran in three days, yep, we got this. The first day was long. We woke up at the crack of dark (not a typo!), prepped breakfast, packed up and got on the road. We drove through Dallas and Amarillo, and made it into New Mexico to spend the night. 

On day two we peeled ourselves out of bed…or maybe that was just me. J is happy and bubbly and ready to listen to party music in the morning. This is something that I will never understand, as I strive for simple morning duties such as not running into the door or looking overly cranky. Fast forward five hours and our mid trip destination awaited us, the Grand Canyon.



For anyone who’s been there, I bet you would agree that pictures don’t do it justice. We decided to go on a hike a mile and a half down and back up, on the South Kaibab trail. The red dirt path was roughly two people wide, with a wall on one side, and a straight shot for miles down on the other. The entire path went down for 6+ miles, but we did not have enough water, or enough time before sundown. Personally, I’m not much of a hiker so the 1 1/2 miles down was perfect. My favorite part was when we got to our mid point before ascending back to the rim. It was beautiful the way only nature can be beautiful; vast and expansive, with the peaceful the sound of the wind sliding like silk ribbons through the canyon. J climbed onto a huge downed branch to lay down, and I climbed up onto a large boulder, sat down and took in the view. If the impending evening and our diminishing water supply hadn’t been calling, we could had have stayed there all day. The lack of animal life in the canyon was shocking. In the forest all around the actual canyon, animals are everywhere. It is illegal to feed them, but they will walk right by, unafraid. Very refreshing too, I might add. On a side note, I did see two birds and two squirrels on the trail. One was gigantic, but I guess that’s what happens if you share a canyon with one other squirrel, ha!

Leaving the national forest, we ended the night inhaling anything we could get out hands on at a Mexican restraunt. The chips and salsa were extra good that night! 

Next stop, California!